The Potential for Kratom as an Antidepressant and Antipsychotic

Yale J Biol Med. 2020 Jun 29;93(2):283-289. eCollection 2020 Jun.


Mitragyna speciosa, otherwise known as kratom, is a plant in the coffee family (Rubiaceae) native to Southeast Asia and Thailand whose leaves have been shown to cause opioid-like and stimulant responses upon ingestion. The major pharmacologically active compounds present in kratom, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-HMG), are both indole alkaloids and are responsible for its opioid-like activity. While kratom is most commonly known for its affinity for mu-opioid receptors, research has shown one of its active components has effects on the same receptors to which some antipsychotics bind, such as D2 dopamine, serotonin (5-HT2C and 5-HT7), and alpha-2 adrenergic receptors displaying possible indications of kratom to be used as both antipsychotics and antidepressants. Although studies to evaluate this effect are still lacking, several online and in-person surveys note relief of depression and anxiety symptoms among those who consume kratom products, and in fact identify it as a common reason for consumption. This then highlights the dire need for further research to be conducted on kratom, its mechanism of action and the constituents that elicit these antidepressant, anxiolytic, and antipsychotic properties.

Keywords: Anxiety; CNS activity; Depression; Kratom; Neurological Disorders; mitragynine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Behavioral Symptoms / drug therapy*
  • Biological Products / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Indole Alkaloids / pharmacology
  • Mitragyna*
  • Receptors, Opioid
  • Secologanin Tryptamine Alkaloids / pharmacology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Biological Products
  • Indole Alkaloids
  • Receptors, Opioid
  • Secologanin Tryptamine Alkaloids
  • 7-hydroxymitragynine
  • mitragynine